1 Thessalonians 4
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
Instruction to live in obedience to the Lord was not new to God’s people. (See examples in Deuteronomy 5:33, Joshua 22:5). The first part of chapter 4 though, was given to the Thessalonians out of necessity, given that these gentile believers had come from a cultural background of gross idolatry and sexual immorality. It was said of Greece at this time ‘that home and family life were near to being extinct and fidelity was completely non-existent.’
What follows in verses 3–12 is not so much a list of rules, but an exhortation in the name of Jesus to live the Christian life. To live is literally to walk. We move from one sphere to another by walking and we do so one step at a time. Each time we take a step there is a possibility that we can stumble or step into trouble. The emphasis here is on the actions that we take. The motive is to please God.
So Paul teaches these Christians that godly practice is in line what the Lord requires of them. It is in keeping with God’s character as demonstrated in the Old Testament. Godly practice is not limited to sexual purity, which so contrasts that of the pagan world. While that is a specific issue, Paul also moves to the more positive general exhortation of brotherly love. No matter where we come from, nationally or culturally, regardless of what our personality differences might be, the apostle points to the kind of love and concern that should exist between all who have the commonality of faith in Christ. The final exhortation in verse 11 requires taking responsibility for our own provision. The abdication of work was a danger to relationships and peace within the body of Christ.
Application: There is no such thing as a perfect church, but are we willing to grow in ways that please God? Do we need to check our daily patterns of life so that we can encourage one another even more? May the Lord help us as we endeavor to do so.